The toadstool tale

Dazel and Din Din were off to an adventure in the Dark Forest to spend a fruitful Sunday in the crisp winter air.

“It’s been quite some time since I’ve ventured into the Dark Forest,” said Din Din to Dazel who was hovering in midair, flapping her bright wings right above him.

“I recall the time when you enjoyed being alone and you used to escape to the Dark Forest,” reminisced Dazel.

“Yes, I have quite a lot of friends here — the butterflies, the anacondas, monkeys and also the bears,” said Din Din.

“What an interesting variety of friends, I must say,” remarked Dazel in jest as the two chuckled.

“Mom wants some berries from the Dark Forest, for jams she’s making,” Din Din began. “And I also want to take some winter berry bushes to plant in my garden. It looks quite bare in winter and Burrow the rabbit suggested that I come to the Dark Forest for them.”

“You know I love to tag along on your expeditions,” retorted Dazel merrily as she landed on one of the rocks near a clump of beautiful pink chokeberry bushes. “Oh look, Din Din,” Dazel pointed with her bright feathered wing. “What are those?”

Din Din peered down. He saw a group of umbrella shaped things growing in the deep, brown soil. They had bright, red umbrella heads dotted with white spots and a long thick stem.

“How adorable,” Din Din said as he touched one gently.

“I wonder what these are?” Dazel said as she pecked her bright orange beak against one of the red heads.

“These are toadstools, commonly called mushrooms,” said a lovely black and yellow spotted butterfly, on a nearby flower.

“Calvin?” Is that you?“ inquired Din Din in delight. “It’s been such a long time since we last met.”

“Yes, it has been long dear Din Din. Dazel, you look as ravishing as always,” drawled the butterfly. Dazel blushed with pleasure.

“Mushrooms may appear to be plants but they are actually fungi. They break down and “eat” dead plants. There are so many varieties of mushrooms in the Dark Forest,” explained Calvin.

“I’d love to take some to my garden to grow; they look adorable,” exclaimed Din Din as he pulled out some and put them carefully in the jute basket he had brought along.

It was late afternoon when they made their way to Din Din’s garden, laden with a basket of saplings with their roots to be replanted. Din Din carefully cleared out the snow and dug up the soil and planted the mushrooms. Calvin had told him to plant only the stems of the mushrooms without the heads. They spent the rest of the day enjoying the feel of the cool soil and the scent of fresh earth.

“Gardening can be so relaxing!” commented Dazel.

“That’s why I love my garden,” admitted Din Din.

The next afternoon, Din Din paid a visit to his prized garden after school, to water the saplings he had planted the day before. He gasped in amazement. Half his garden floor was covered with the mushrooms he had planted. Coming out of the mushrooms were several tiny beetles.

“Oh my!” he whispered. Kit, his pet cat and caretaker of his garden, came out of her tiny shack followed by her three kittens. “Din Din, what in the world are these? They have cropped up all over the garden.”

“I planted around ten toadstools and they have become so large overnight,” said Din Din.

“And I guess these beetles live inside the mushrooms.” One of the kittens suddenly began mewling hysterically. Kit scampered over to it, “Kenny, what’s wrong?” But the kitten was reeling and suddenly fainted.

Kit was aghast, “Din Din! What happened to her?”

“Let’s rush her to Dr. Owl,” cried Din Din and scooped the kitten gently in his paw.

Together they rushed to the tree house where Dr. Owl’s clinic was crowded as usual.

“Dr. Owl, please take a look at this kitten. She fainted all of a sudden. We were just taking a look at the mushrooms in my garden,” Din Din said, gasping for breath.

“Did you say mushrooms?” exclaimed the owl peering at the kitten and prodding its furry tummy.

“Yes, toadstools… I found them in the Dark Forest and replanted them in my garden…” added Din Din.

“I suspect this little one might have nibbled on a mushroom; they can be poisonous and even cause delirium,” said Dr. Owl as he pried open the kitten’s mouth and scooped out a tiny piece of mushroom.

“I’ll have to give her some herbal tonic to wash the toxins out,” the doctor continued. The kitten spent the night at the clinic with an anxious Kit by its side. By morning, the kitten was still drowsy but ready to be sent home.

“I spoke to Burrow — he’s an expert gardener, you know. He told me these toadstools are inedible,” Din Din told Kit when Kenny the little ailing kitten was settled and sleeping soundly in her shack.

“But these fungi are great microorganisms for gardens as they give nutrients to the grass,” he continued. “And they look adorable. The other problem however is the beetles.”

“And I can’t risk my kittens eating them again,” said Kit.

“Yes, yes, I agree,” said Din Din.

“Thanks Din Din,” Kit said gratefully. “Appearances can be so deceiving; who would have thought that such a cute thing could cause so much trouble.”

“Yes, that’s true. I guess everything has its pros and cons and it’s important to look at all sides before we do anything,” agreed Din Din.

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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